Three-time champion National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson has received an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
Johnson, well on his way this season to his fourth successive title after finishing runner-up 16 times to his great friend and record-breaking rival Sir Anthony McCoy, described it as a “huge” and “incredible” honour to be recognised.
He told Press Association Sport: “I’m not sure how to put it into words, to be honest.
“It’s a huge honour and it’s come as a complete surprise.
“It’s something I’m delighted to receive, and it’s a huge honour just to be in the same category as some of the people who have received an OBE.”
Johnson, 41, had to wait until his 21st season in the saddle under rules before being crowned top jockey at last.
He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the second time on Native River in March, having done so previously with Looks Like Trouble in 2000, with those Festival triumphs the highlights among his 3,500-plus career victories alongside his sole Champion Hurdle success on Rooster Booster.
Only the peerless McCoy is above Johnson in the all-time list of most career victories.
Many of his highest-profile wins have come through enduring associations with Philip Hobbs and former trainer Noel Chance, who is also his father-in-law, after his early career was spent with David Nicholson.
Johnson added: “To be in the same group as some of the people in racing who have received this honour is incredible.
“I think there are people who deserve it more than me. I feel very privileged.”